Saturday, 25 August 2012

Paddling to Inishkeel

Island Memoirs, Chapter #34: Inishkeel..........

View Trip to Inishkeel in a larger map

On Saturday I took a trip up to Donegal towards Portnoo and in search of Inishkeel. Inishkeel is one of those fabled Irish islands you can get to by walking over the strand when the tide's out. 

View of Inishkeel Island from Portnoo in Donegal, Ireland
Viewpoint from Portnoo to Inishkeel
Travelling from Enniskillen at a leisurely pace and on up through Ballyshannon and Donegal town the roads and towns were well decorated with the green and gold of the Donegal Gaelic football county team. The heroes who were due to play their much awaited semi-final against Cork at GAA HQ Croke park  with Glenties way ahead in the bunting and home made paraphernalia that is part and parcel of this great annual celebration in Irish sport. After a grey start the sun came out through broken cloud and a very nice late summer afternoon set the tone for the road ahead. The mood made better by the sound of a song played every half hour on local Highland radio station by  local musician Rory Gallagher of Kilcar called "Jimmy's winning matches" which is a great little ditty if I say so myself. The song pay homage to Donegal's team manager Jimmy McGuiness.

Here's the youtube video....

I knew I was going to be ultra early as the reported tide times had 6.44pm recorded for a low tide. This was also a road trip of course to an area I'd had never been to before and made my arrival just after 3 in the afternoon. The initial thing that strikes you about this place is it's beach. White sand and spotless in what feels like a place that hasn't been discovered (or maybe left alone) by the travelling day/weekend trippers from Fermanagh and beyond. The coastline is spectacular, as with all of Donegal, as it juts in and out with it's sandy beaches that hug like a Ready Brek aura.

On arrival I popped into the local bar where the super friendly bar owner told me that 5.30 would be the ideal time to get to the island but as it was late in the summer doubted the tide would be completely out. "You don't have to buy anything; just come back later for a pint!" she said when I enquired after a coffee and knowing I was being too polite and thankful for her digging out her own well-eared tidal book.
Naran beach, County Donegal, Ireland
The strand at Naran beach with the tide going out.
I took to Naran strand and paddled alongside the water just where the waves rolled in,  took in the fresh sea air and watched several windsurfers enjoy the space Donegal offers to those who make the effort in getting there. Half an hour later I doubled back to the my starting point marked by the blue flag and had a bite to eat.

Naran's blue flag beach

With time still to kill I drove around the coast to Portnoo, Lackagh, Eden, Rossbeg then back around to Kilcooney which brought me back to Narin. The coast with many inlets, beaches and windy roads taking you to an almost forgotten land. Tricky roads too that have to be respected so slow and careful is the name of the game here.

At 5.30 I noticed that the tide still hadn't gone out so I enquired with the lifeguard about my chances. She told me that paddling would be my only option as it was getting late in the summer so it was now or never. At that stage the tide was about 3/4's way out so I walked then paddled through the crystal clear cool water. I also only had about 40 minutes before it started to turn.

After negotiating seaweed here and there I approached the shoreline of Inishkeel and got ready for my well earned quick hike on it's green plain but to my shock a "BEWARE OF THE BULL!" sign greeted me with a fence that ran around the edge of the island. Darn! 

I got there anyway but wasn't prepared, or hadn't the time, to find out if the electric looking fence was real or not (please bring a multi tester if you ever go). At the end of this short adventure my pot of gold was cordoned off by an electric fence and sign I just had to believe.

At that point I took a moment and sat down, relaxed, and enjoyed the view back to Naran strand thankful for a great afternoon in a magical place. The wade back was timely and quick with the thigh-high tide reminding that the road home beckoned.

View from Inishkeel to Naran strand where the tide is turning

A lovely day trip to a lesser spotted part of Ireland.

Donegal for the cup!

1 comment:

  1. As a follow on note Donegal beat Cork the following day 0-16 to 1-11 to reach the final on September 23rd. They will meet the winner of Dublin and Mayo game on September 2nd :)